First of all what is our wise mind? I know that this is elementary for DBT veterans, yet we are getting quite a bit of new readers lately, so for their benefit let's cover the basics on our three states of mind and their impact on our choices.
We have our Emotion Mind, Logic Mind and our Wise Mind. As I am sure you can piece together that our Wise Mind is a delicate blend of the other two. This can get tricky because for various situations there are various "formula's" of the two states. In some cases I may require more of my emotion mind to be working and less logic, whereas the exact opposite is true, at times I will require more logic than emotion to make an effective choice. Still more, another time equal parts emotion and logic might be what I need be using my wise mind. There are many roads to wise mind. It is up to each individual to determine how much of each makes up their wise mind in any given situation. That simple truism is the root of many of the conflicts we face with persons in our environment, especially our mates.
Each mate has their own formula and at times it can be quite daunting to understand why and how your mate is handling a situation with their own formula when to you the balance is off, and that there is no way you would be able to access your wise mind if the tables were turned. Add to that the nature of why all of this education is needed, which is a mental illness, and now you have a receipt for conflict. It is hard business balancing and understanding your own formula, let alone that of your mate.
Back to our other states of mind, what does Emotion Mind do for you? Well, for starters it can be the way for you to connect to your environment. Although it's actions are based from feelings, the connection you have to persons or things when it comes from your emotion mind is unlike that which will come from logic mind. You will tend to have a sense of urgency when making choices from emotion mind and all of those dreadful feelings that drive your body sensations during a trigger will reside there too. On the plus side, those connections mentioned above, can be quite satisfying and bring great joy. A lot of good in emotion mind.
Logic Mind can be quite reasonable. However, there will be a lot of linear thinking too. When we want to take the detective's approach to your experience we will do well to consult our logic mind, this state of mind analyzes the environment, it takes in the facts.
So we can see here why both mind states are necessary for effective living. If you lived all in one state life would either be dull, predictable, cold and systematic or be a roller coaster ride with passion and excitement around every corner, never knowing whether the excitement will be good or bad. But to take that passion and excitement and roll it up with a good system for living, some predictable stabilized expectations of our environment; ah, then we would really be living! We would achieve a state of mind that is valid, satisfying and we would be able to interact with others effectively and our choices there would stand the test of time.
The way we access our wise mind is simple. Mindfully. As with any of the skills learned in DBT, mindfulness is the factor that gets us from point A to point B. It may sound simple and easy, but we all know that it isn't. All of us struggle with whether we are in our wise mind or not, no matter whether we have been learning and applying DBT now for 5 years, or whether we just started educating ourselves yesterday, we all could use practice with accesses our wise mind.
This mindful approach is what helps us to apply all of the skills we learn when learning to regulate our emotions, or the skills for effective interpersonal relationships, problem solving skills, or distress tolerance skills. Learning them all and using and applying all of those skills will be what makes us in our wise mind or not.
So when I say that my decision was wise-mind justified, clearly I have done a lot of "behind the scenes" skills. Knowing this will help me to accept the consequences from my choice. Which brings me to our next topic, accepting reality. When we have made a wise mind justified choice it may be easier to accept the reality that comes along with it. But what if we made a choice that was not wise mind justified? Can we still accept the reality that comes along with that? Do we need to accept that reality? Next week...
Before I move onto my next project I wanted to share a book with you all, I was given this book by a dear group member after completing my DBT program, it is called The Book of Qualities by J.Ruth Gendler. A beautiful book really, the book is constructed in chapters, each chapter has an emotion as its title. In a few paragraphs that emotion is described as if the writer were introducing you to the emotion as a person, not a feeling or state of being, and then describes what you might see when meeting that emotion. It is uniquely written and is a quick read. It is more useful as a reference guide for some material to jump-start quiet time for your mind. Here is an excerpt:
Jealousy stands by the blue flame of the gas stove stirring obsession stew. In his mind he is tearing people limb from limb. He wears a shirt that is almost in style with its odd angular shapes and bright edges. He can be quite charming when he wants to be. He certainly has a flair for drama. After awhile, though, the roles Jealousy takes begin to seem shallow, dishonest, repetitive. The more upset he feels, the more loudly he denies it. For a time I stopped giving parties because he wouldn't come if I invited certain people. At that point I couldn't give a party without inviting him, and I was unwilling to censor my guest list for his sake. He is quite capable of showing up anywhere, unexpected, uninvited, unwelcome.
It's a good read! :)
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